East Dereham

Last up-dated - 15-06-2020
Email contact: Ray Taylor
Still under construction
The brand names below are well known in Dereham's history - How are they connected to ECKLING GRANGE, see below.


ECKLING GRANGE was built sometime about 1871 by Charles Norton Elvin a Coach Builder and Heraldic, although early electoral rolls only record an address of Freehold-land, Norwich Road. Charles was born on December 7th 1820 at Russell House, Commercial Road, and baptised on the 31st day of the same month at St Nicholas Church, he was the son of James Elvin a coach-maker and Susanna Norton. His father, James, who was born in 1796, at Great Moulton, near Long Stratton, Norfolk and had come to Dereham in the early 1800's. On Sunday July 9th 1820, he married 18-year old Susanna Norton, the daughter of Robert Norton and Susanna Mortimer. It is said James started his business about 1817 doing repair and hire work progressing to building new broughams, landaus, gigs and wagonettes. He bought a property on Norwich Road, Dereham, now The Memorial Hall, where he soon established a name for building quality coaches. His workforce at times was said to have been over 50 workers. As his repetition grew he was soon commissioned by the wealthy and the nobility throughout Britain and Europe, one of his clients was the Czar of Russia. It was fashionable in those times for families to have their own coat of arms painted on the carriage doors. Each was recorded by Charles who after being educated a Gresham's School in Holt went on to Cambridge and studied the subject of Heraldry, becoming recognised as an expert in the field and publishing several books. Susanna Elvin died in 1860, aged 57 and James remarried on September 19th 1861 to Maria Moore a 43-year old spinster and daughter of William Moore the founder of Norfolk Nurseries on Norwich Road which was later taken over by Hobbies of Dereham. When James died in 1880, Charles inherited the business and in turn following Charles's death in 1894 it went to his son Thomas Willoughby Norton Elvin. However trade was now changing with the coming of the motorcar and orders stopped coming in which ultimately lead to the closing of the business.

Charles Norton Elvin a bachelor married Anna Stebbings a spinster in the September quarter of 1850. Anna was the daughter of Thomas Stebbings a Farmer of Woodrising and Esther Hogg. Charles and Anna had five children, Maria Louisa Elvin born in 1851, Helena Augusta Elvin, was born in 1853, Charles Robert Stebbing Elvin, born 1854, Thomas Willoughby Norton Elvin, born 1856 and James Aubery D’Vere Elvin, was born in 1864. All children were born and baptised at Swaffham except for James who was born at East Dereham. In the 1851 census Charles was living at White Hart Lane, Swaffham and recorded as a Master Coach Builder, employing 14 men and boys. From the electoral roll his premises was off London Road. This could indelicate Charles's business, at this time was separate to his father's as there is some 12 miles between the towns. However, by 1861 the family had moved to Elvin Terrace, Dereham although Charles still retained the premises at Swaffham until 1890. In the 1869 electoral roll Charles's address was Freehold Land on Norwich Road, East Dereham, the 1871 census gave an address as New Road Dereham, but by 1881 the name ECKLING GRANGE appeared. From all accounts Charles was a much loved man in Dereham. He was a philanthropist and was known as ‘the poor man’s friend.

1886: - an announcement appeared in the news-papers that Mr Charles Norton Elvin proposed to publish by subscription a Dictionary of Heraldry, with upwards of 2,000 illustrations.

1894: November 13th - Charles died suddenly at the age of 74.
1894: Death recrod - Charles Norton Elvin at Mitford - Dec quarter (4b 160) age 74

1894: Nov 17 - Norfolk News - Death of Mr C N Elvin of East Dereham - We regret to record the death of Mr Charles Norton Elvin M.A. a gentleman who has been a resident of East Dereham nearly all his lifetime, who passed away somewhat suddenly at his residence, Eckling Grange on Tuesday night, having attained the age of 74 years. The deceased gentleman had been in failing health for some time, but it was not until recently that his condition excited any anxiety among his friends, and he was allowed by his medical advisor to drive about, and as late as Tuesday was about the town. Mr Elvin for many years conducted an extensive business in the town as a carriage-builder. A few years ago the business was transferred to his son Mr T W Evlin, who still carries on the same, and although Mr Elvin may be said to have lived a comparatively retired life of late years he took a keen interest in local matters, and was always ready to assist with both council and help. At the time of his decease he was representative of the town on the Norfolk County Council and was also chairman of the School Board, having been a member thereof since its formation, and was unsparing in his exertions to promote the educational advancement of children. He was also a member of the Local Board and Burial Board, and up to last Easter was parish churchwarden, at which time he sent in his resignation, after holding that office for seventeen years. His literary works are well known, and he was considered one of the beast authorities on "Heraldry" upon which subject he had compiled a book. He was engaged upon another work at the time of his death.

1895: Nov 27 - Norwich Mercury - East Dereham, House TO-LET - ECKLING GRANGE a good house, about a Mile from East Dereham Railway Station, containing 3 reception rooms, 6 bedrooms, 2 Dressing rooms and a Servant Bedroom, also Conservatories; and if required about 6 Acres of land and double Cottage. Rent for whole £55, or without Cottages, £45. Apply Messrs, Barton and Vores, Solicitors, East Dereham.

1896: April 18 - Norwich Mercury - The Elvin Sale at Dereham - In a two day's sale brought to the hammer, without reserve, by order of the trustees of the late Charles Norton Elvin, the furniture, library, and pictures, removed from Eckling Grange to the residence taken up by his widow (recently deceased), adjoining Quebec and Elvin Roads, East Dereham. A sale of some of the late Mr C N Elvins effects lately took place at Eckling Grange, and it was evident at this week's sale that the more valuable section of his library, &c, and his silver had been privately dispersed. The sale on Tuesday comprised antique and modern household furniture, oil paintings, Franceschino drawings, old china, silver and 700 volumes of books. The auction attracted a large number of buyers, many coming down from Norwich and London. Amongst local buyers were Jarrold and Sons and many other names. The household effects made indifferent prices, a mahogany inlaid eight day grandfather's clock, with brass and slivered dial, was sold for £5 to Mr R Baldry; a marqueterie 14-day timepiece, by Markwick, London, to My Hudson, of Dereham, for £10; and an antique inlaid cabinet with brass furniture, to Mt Mace, for £6. The furniture and effects raised about £350. On Wednesday a well preserved edition of Scott's works in seven volumes was knocked down to 26s. Farrer's "Church Heraldry of Norfolk" in three vols, 30s; followed by a list of other books raising only small sums - Amongst the pictures was a 16 x 12 pastel by Reubens, a lot for which it was stated a Londoner had come down prepared to bid a hundred guineas. The picture which was in good condition was a representation of the "Virgin and Child with St Elizabeth" only realised £1 15s. A W Crome entitled " Roadside with Cottage" fell to Mr Boswell for £8 10s, as also did two landscape scenes by unknown painters, for £3 5s. The library and pictures raise about £250.

1896: Jul 18 - Norwich Mercury - In Norwich Road - All that Pleasantly-situated, Substantially-built, and Well-arranged, FAMILY RESIDENCE, known as "Eckling Grange" with Two Cottages and large Orchard, the whole containing 6a. 2r. 33p. or thereabouts, with possession at Michaelmas next which T H Warren is favoured with instructions to SELL by AUCTION, at the Kings Arms Hotel, East Dereham, on Wednesday 22nd of July 1896 st Three for Four o'clock in the Afternoon, in Nine Lots.


ECKLING GRANGE was purchased next by John Henry Skinner the founder of Hobbies Ltd of East Dereham. Their name was known worldwide through their products which they advertised in a magazine which printed their selves, first simply Hobbies but later became Hobbies Weekly, selling for a penny which also included a free fretwork design. John Henry's first company 'J H Skinner' was formed in the early 1880s, making wooden box cameras similar to the Brownie box camera, he was also selling imported American fretwork machines and German-made fretwork blades. His factory's were based locally in the town, one in Church Street and the other on the site opposite the old Dereham Railway Station now occupied Morrison's supermarket and garage. He was one of the towns largest employers.

John Henry Skinner was born on June 29th 1860 at Wisbech, on the boarder of Norfolk Cambridgeshire the son of John Young Skinner a Printer/Stationer and for a time a Clothier/Outfitter and Frances Simpson Harris. His mother died when he was only 6 years old on a trip to Liverpool. For whatever reason John was sent to live with his father's sister Emma who had married William Stebbings a wealthy Timber Merchant of Norwich Road, East Dereham. He also had business premises in Dereham Station Yard, plus owning considerable properties elsewhere which included premises at South Gate Wharf, Kings Lynn. On leaving school John Henry became a clerk to his uncle, but he also had a keen interest in the manufacture of plywood by hand and the hobby of fret-working. He recognised the potential of plywood for this application, meaning thin, but strong sheets could be produced, often veneered with exotic timbers. This was the birth of would become a world-wide major industry based in the small market town of East Dereham. John Henry was soon importing fretwork machines from Germany and America, for at this time nothing was available in Britain. At the age of 27 John Henry had formed a company called 'John Henry Skinner & Co'. As it's business address was the same previously used by his uncle it is assumed John Henry had taken over his timber business. John Henry's other interest was photography and like fret-working he saw the potential of turning his interest into making money and started to make plywood camera bodies. On May 14th 1889 John Henry made a patent application retaining to a rapid focusing device for camera bodies. By 1889 it is said his company had a workforce of over 100 workmen. The camera manufacturing factory was situated in Church Street where the old Inland Revenue build was. Throughout 1889 and 1890 John Henry advertised his Eclipse camera at 3/6d.

John Henry's younger brother Frank also had an interest in the business, he was recorded working as a Journalist in 1891, although started his career as a Draper's Assistant at Newton Abbot, Devon. He also shared an interest in photography. Up to 1895 John Henry had been advertising his business and items for sale in other magazines but by October 19th of that year the very first edition of 'Hobbies' magazine for amateurs of both sexes was launched. Maybe it was no coincidence that round this time we find Frank and their father (John Young Skinner a retired printer) living at Dereham, maybe it was a collective pool of knowledge that saw the potential of such a venture, although it is thought it was the brainchild of Frank. There are a few romantic stories of this creation, however the Hobbies magazine, which included a free fretwork design proved to be a great success reaching out, far and wide throughout the country and by 1898 had a circulation of 50,000 to homes not only in Britain but worldwide. They even expanded with several retail outlets through the country --- There is a wonderful book by Terry Davey called 'The Hobbies Story' which is a 'Must Read' for those interested in Dereham's history.

On June 14th 1883 John Henry Skinner married Elizabeth Isaac at the Baptist Tabernacle at Great Yarmouth. Elizabeth was born in Dec quarter of 1861 at Great Yarmouth, the daughter of John Joseph Isaac a wealthy Carpenter, Builder and Timber Merchant and Margaret Day of Market Road Great Yarmouth. He also had timber mills at Middle Market Street and South Denes Road, Great Yarmouth. John Henry and Elizabeth (Bessy) had six children, John William born 1887, Conrad Arthur 1889, Adelaide Frances 1891, Reginald Stebbings 1892, Dorothy Margaret 1893 and Cyril Frank 1897.

In 1903 John Henry Skinner decided to part company with Hobbies to emigrate to Durban, South Africa, to start a veneer and plywood manufacturing business. Frank Skinner (brother) took over as Managing Director of Hobbies, however for whatever reason Frank left in about 1907 together with a least two other former employees taking the Hobbies mailing list and designs with him and set a rival business called 'Handicrafts'. Over the years a least two court cases are recorded between Hobbies and Handicrafts. The judge described as their actions as robbery of trade secrets, Hobbies won the day and was awarded damages of £1,500 plus costs. This was not a slap on the wrist - today's equivalent would be at least £86,000. The judge also stated that it was lucky for Frank Skinner that the criminal law hadn't yet been extended to such cases.

On the November 4th 1903 an advert was found in the Norwich Mercury for a Good Plain Cook and Housemaid, together preferred, Apply giving particulars and wages to Skinner, Eckling Grange, Dereham - This is a little confusing as the family were to soon immigrate!!!

1903: Nov 14 - Norwich Mercury

Including the contents of Drawing, Dining, and Breakfast Rooms, Hall and Study Furniture, Bear, Russian Wolf, and other Skin Rugs, Appointments of Seven Bedrooms, a very useful Bay Broughton Horse, a Promising Brown Hackney Filly, rising 3 years. Two Donkeys, a fine Pedigree St Bernard Dog, Carriages included: A Light Running Single-horse Chirurgeon Brougham (nearly new), an American Surry with rubber tyres and collapsible hood, high running Dog Cart, Donkey Tumbril, Feur Ladies' and Gents' Bicycles; Harness; a Choice Assortment of POT PANTS, FLOWER VASES, and other Effects.
THOMAS CRANMER is favored with instructions from Mr JOHN HENRY SKINNER who is leaving for South Africa, to sell by Auction,
On TUESDAY and WENESDAY, November 17th and 18th, 1903
Tuesday, 17th, Horses, Carriages, Plants, and Outdoor Effects, 300 Lots
Wednesday, November 18th , Household Furniture and indoor Effects, 550 Lots.

On Boxing Day 1903 the family embarked on board the "Briton" and sailed for South Africa where a new successful firm was set up, Plywood (South Africa Ltd). This would be his home for almost the next 30 years but in 1932 John Henry Sinner and his wife Elizabeth retired and returned to England on only to set up another firm 'Skinner and Thomas & Co' based in London, his son Reginald Stebbings Skinner was an assistant managing director. On Christmas Eve 1948 John Henry Skinner died in his 89th year. He was visiting his son in South Africa and it is said that in failing light he opened a door which led to a cellar and fell down the steps and died of his injuries.

John Henry was still on the Electoral Roll until 1904 but in the 1911 census there appears to be no occupant, Charles Buscall, age 48, who was living in Eckling Grange cottage, was recorded as Caretaker and Gardener. The other cottage was occupied by George Thomas Jarrett, age 37, Nursery and Gardener

Was it possible that during this period ECKLING GRANGE had remained the property of the Sinner family or somehow was under the Hobbies care for it seems quite a coincidence that the next occupants had an affiliation with the business.


1922: Electoral Roll - Charles Plumpton Wilson was living at ECKLING GRANGE - he remain occupant until his death in 1938 - he was the nephew of Eldred Winteringham Wilson who was living at Quebec Hall - More HERE.

Charles Plumpton Wilson was born on May 12th 1859 at Freebridge Lynn, the son of Rev Plumpton Sravenson Wilson, curate of Ringstead and later of West Pinchbeck Parsonage, Spalding, Lincolnshire and Elizabeth Walker. They had married in the June quarter of 1858 at Kings Lynn - Charles was educated at Uppingham School and Marlborough College where he was a member of the cricket eleven in 1876 and 1877 and of the football team in 1876. He went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he proved an outstanding all-round sportsman. He represented the University in the twenty-five-mile bicycle race against Oxford in 1879, won his "blue" at rugby football in each of the years from 1877 to 1880, and at cricket in 1880 and 1881. On graduating, he became an assistant master at Elstree School, Hertfordshire from 1881 to 1898, and from 1898 he was headmaster of Sandroyd School,Cobham, Surrey -

Rugby Union: Wilson came to note as a rugby player when he was selected for the Cambridge University team whilst studying at Trinity. He won four sporting Blues in rugby, playing in The Varsity Match from 1877 to 1880, and was made team captain in the 1880 encounter. He made his solitary international appearance for England in their first match against Wales played on 19 February 1881 at Richardson's Field in Blackheath. England recorded their largest victory, defeating the Welsh 30–0 and scoring 13 tries in the process. -

Cricket: He represented Cambridge University ten times in 1880 and 1881. With the bat he only scored 157 runs in the two seasons at an average of 14.27. He was more successful as a right-arm medium pace bowler, taking 22 wickets at an average of 19.95. His best performance came against Surrey in June 1881, when he claimed 5 wickets for 34 runs in Surrey's second innings, as the university won by 9 wickets. He played minor counties cricket for Lincolnshire in 1880 and for Norfolk from 1881 to 1884.
Football: While teaching at Elstree he joined Hendon Football Club and took part in their FA Cup matches, including that in the 1883–84 First Round on 10 November 1883 when they defeated the previous season's FA Cup finalists Old Etonians 3–2. He also played once for the Corinthian amateur side in a 3–1 victory over Cambridge University on 21 November 1883.

This brought him to the attention of the England selectors, who picked him for the inaugural season Home International Championship match against Scotland on 15 March 1884. In a close match at Cathkin Park, the Scots won 1–0. Despite the defeat, Wilson retained his place for the next match against Wales on 17 March, which England won comfortably 4–0, including two goals from William Bromley-Davenport. - He was thus one of only three players to represent England at both Association football and Rugby football, the others being Reginald Birkett and John Willie Sutcliffe.

Headmaster of Sandroyd School:
Sandroyd School was founded by the Revd. L. H. Wellesley Wesley, at his home, Sandroyd House in Cobham in Surrey (now the home of Reed's School) in 1888, although as the Times Digital Archive reveals, he had been tutoring boys there ad hoc at least since 1882. Wellesley Wesley was a great-grandson of Charles Wesley.[6] From 1898 the school owed its further development, and success, to two able men, until then assistant masters at Elstree School, Charles Plumpton Wilson [1859 - 1938] and William Meysey Hornby [1870 - 1955] who took over from Wesley that year, as Headmaster and Deputy Headmaster respectively. Wilson retired in 1920, Hornby then took his place, until his own retirement in 1931 - Sir Anthony Eden was just one of the famous names who were pupils

Taken from the internet:
His middle name, Plumpton, was passed down from the de' Plompton family, knights who dated back to the the time of the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century. The clan held land in an area now called Plompton, in North Yorkshire, England. By 1168, Nigel de' Plumpton owned land there, and his successors remained in the area into the 18th century. By the 19th century, the ancestor Reverend Plumpton Wilson was the Rector of Mowsley in Leicester, a hundred miles to the south of his family’s heritage. Reverend Wilson’s eldest of 14 children was Plumpton Stravinson Wilson, (Charles's father) a smart and athletic lad who went on to study at Exeter College, Oxford. He followed in his father’s footsteps and found his way to the clergy.

Charles's younger brother Geoffrey made two appearances for the England national football team in 1900.

Charles sister Mary Agnes Wilson a socialist and suffragette married Arthur Stanley Ramsey (1867 - 1954) - they had children: Frank Plumpton Ramsey (1903 - 1930) and Arthur Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, (1904 - 1988) - Mary Agnes was killed in 1927 in a road traffic accident where she was a passenger in a car driven by her husband which turned over when Arthur lost attention trying to adjust his coat whilst driving - Frank Ramsey was only the second person ever to be elected to a fellowship at King's College, not having previously studied at King's. In 1925 Frank married Lettice C Baker and they had two daughters. In 1926 he was appointed as a university lecturer in mathematics and he later became a Director of Studies in Mathematics at King's College. Suffering from chronic liver problems, contracted jaundice after an abdominal operation and died on 19 January 1930 at Guy's Hospital in London at the age of 26.
Arthur Michael Ramsey, Baron Ramsey of Canterbury, PC (14 November 1904 – 23 April 1988) was an English Anglican bishop and life peer. He served as the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury. He was appointed on 31 May 1961 and held the office until 1974, having previously been the Bishop of Durham and the Archbishop of York. He was known as a theologian, educator, and advocate of Christian unity

1938: Mar 9 - Charles Plumpton Wilson died at Eckling Grange, East Dereham, Norfolk on 9 March 1938, aged 78 - Charles Plumpton Wilson (12 May 1859 – 9 March 1938) was an English amateur footballer who played at wing-half. He made two appearances for England in 1884. He was also capped for the England national rugby union team in 1881, and was one of only three players to be capped for England at both Association football and Rugby football.


We can only assume Bernard Smart purchased Eckling Grange after Charles Wilson's death for we know he was recorded in the 1939 census as living there with his family.

Bernard Arthur Smart married Cicely E Keens in the Jun quarter of 1924 at Luton
Cicely was born Ella Cicely Keens on April 1st 1901 at Luton, the daughter of Sir Thomas Keens the man whose efforts to attract new industries to Luton, early in the 1900's did much to make it a thriving industrail town, and his wife Ella Sophia S Batchelor. They had married in the Jun quarter of 1896 at Luton.
Bernard and Cicely had three children, Patrica W Smart, born in the Jun quarter of 1925 at Luton, John W Smart, born in the September quarter of 1927 at Luton and Richard W Smart, born 1931 at Dereham.

Captain Bernard Arthur Smart moved to East Dereham about 1926-7, In the 1928, 1930 & 1931, Electoral Registers the family was living at High House, Billingford - Bernard had come to Dereham from Luton to join his cousin Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins where they formed a company in 1926 called 'Bowman Models of Dereham' of which Bernard and Geoffrey were both directors. Geoffrey had previously been making models at a site in London but had cought the attention of Hobbies who were impressed with his skill in making model boats and yachts. He was persuaded in 1922 to move from his site at Clapham, London to Dereham. From all accounts it appear Geoffrey did not become an employee of the company as he was also trading as 'The Woodcrafts Patents Company' plus at the same time selling his products for Hobbies. When Bernard joined, steam-powered models were produced.

Bernard Arthur Smart:
Bernard was born on December 24th 1891 at Luton, the son of Charles Smart a Straw Plait Merchant of 17 Dunstable Road, Luton and Kate Newham, they had married in the September quarter of 1889 at Alderbury. Bernard was working in the parents' company in 1911, producing straw hats. At the age of 24 years, on July 24, 1916, he qualified to become a pilot at Royal Naval Air Service. He became
a British pilot in single-minded airplanes during World War I, which performed some of the world's first aircraft attacks from aircraft carriers that were actually rebuilt cruisers with catapults and a small flying deck - On August 21, 1917, he took off from HMS Yarmouth in a Sopwith Pup plane and shot down German airship L23 with 16 persons aboard over the North Sea, 40 km from Jutland's west coast beyond Stadil Fjord

Downing of Airship L23
I could see a man and an object unpleasantly like a machine-gun on top of the envelope, and I now realised the time had come. I was now at 7,000 feet and the Zeppelin a thousand feet below at an angle of 45 degrees and I was still heading straight for her stern. I pushed forward the control stick and dived. The speed indicator went with a rush up to 150 m.p.h. ... and rammed down the machine-gun’s operating lever - and held it there. The gun spat out and ... the Zeppelin was now a mass of flames and had dropped so that the nose was pointing to the sky at an angle of 45 degrees while the flames were fast licking up towards the nose ... An object was adrift from the forward end of the Zeppelin which I first took to be some part of the fabric falling off, but on looking again I discovered it to be a man descending in a parachute. He was the only one, and as he floated down, he and I seemed to be alone in space. I turned until my compass was in the opposite direction to that when I had been chasing the Zeppelin and then looked back to have a last glance at the blaze. The wreck had just reached the sea, only the very tip of it still being intact -- Bernard A. Smart


Bernard Arthur Smart, 1916

After destroying the airship Bernard A. Smart was actually unsure of where his support ships were located as he had been disoriented during the attack. Luckily the smoke from the airship attracted a British Navy squadron and he was able to ditch his plane in the water and was rescued by a British destroyer - On July 19, 1918, he was sent from HMS Furious ca. 15 miles west of Lyngvig lighthouse as a pilot on a Sopwith Camel plane and led to the Tønder Bombing Raid of the airship base in Tønder, where the air ships L 54 and L 60 were burned in the big Toska hall - Smart was honored 9 weeks after the shooting of L 23 with the DSO order. On board of HMS Furious in the presence of Admiral David Beatty, he was presented on July 24, 1918, to his great surprise for King George V, who decorated him with an extra bar as he already had the DSO order in advance

1958: Captain Smart had moved to Quebec Road - ECKLING GRANGE was left empty and placed on the market for sale.

1969: Cicely Smart died aged 68 at Dereham in the September.

1979: Bernard Arthur Smart died in 1979 in East Dereham (Bernard Arthur Smart at East Dereham – Jun quarter [10 1008] age 88)

2011: Some of his aftermaths were sold, including His DSO medal, going under the hammer for £ 63,000 (£ 69,200 in 2017)

More on Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins:
In 1922 Geoffrey Bowman Jenkins came to Dereham and was renting part of Hobbies factory where he designed and built a variety of boats, intially selling for Hobbies, but later Hobbies - Bowman. Geoffrey had also been involved with The Woodcrafts Patents Company which also made model boats and yachts. In 1934 Jenkins Productions was formed to make dining and occational furniture (including a spring-powered gramophone). Metamac Ltd was incorporated on April 6th 1941 and in 1942 the company name was changed to Jentique Ltd. Plans to make electric clocks was first considered in 1944. The Metamec trade marks was registered on January 13th 1947. Metamac was part of Jentique each with their own identity. At its peak Metamac was producing 25,000 clocks per week making them the largest clock manufacture in the UK.


1958: About - David Charles Potter: Purchased ECKLING GRANGE

David Charles Potter

A Vision Fulfilled by Mrs Bertha Potter née Horne
ECKLING GRANGE was the third and final home David Potter converted. After bringing two homes into being, seeing and experiencing their development, we were able to see what was lacking. If the residents were to remain and enjoy familiar surroundings and fellowship to the end, something else was needed. An Outstanding case then developed. A dear missionary couple who had faithfully served the Lord on the mission field for fifty three years had to be parted because the wife needed small daily nursing care. They were living at Quebec Hall, where at that time there wasn't any nursing care. Therefore following Doctor's orders Mrs Griffith's was sent to a non-Christain home in Norwich. This upset her husband and mine to such an extent that David could not rest until they were united again and were able to spend the rest of their time together - a large house on Norwich Road was empty and up for sale. David and I went to look round it and as we stood on the side lawn he saw the end from the beginning of the vision that the Lord had given him many years back. The house was enlarged with many rooms added, and the grounds, consisting of an orchard with fruit of evey kind, were made into a horseshoe of bungalows connected to the main house in case of need and furnished with a cover walkway all round to protect residents from the elements of the weather.
The Lord was good, and with the help of the previous owner, Mr B A Smart, ECKLING GRANGE was purchased. In due course it was possible to open Eckling Grange with the day and night nursing care facilities that would enable residents to remain in the home, apart from "Doctor's orders". Prior to this, however, a lot of work had to be done, both inside and out, workmen were soon plumbing, re-wiring, decorating and furnishing.

Mr & Mrs Payne together with a nurse moved in, to initally help with preparations and first residents. A room had been prepared upstairs overlooking the side lawn, and all was now set for the return of Mrs Griffiths. David drove to Norwich to bring her back to Eckling Grange. She was a dear, frail little lady and as the lift had not yet been installed, David carried her in his arms up the front stairway to her room. There the couple spent one happy year together, having meals in their room and being well looked after until the Lord called her home.

David's parents were Charles Robert Potter and Florence Emma Welton, they had married in 1903 at Shelfanger - Florence, David's mother died in 1920, aged just 35. David started work on a building-site and it was not long before he had his own business and men working for him. At the age of 18, in 1932, David was baptised at the Dereham Baptist Church. By 1938 Potter Brothers Builders, Dereham was formed. His first building, the Christian Brethren Gospel Hall, Shipdham Road, Toftwood, was were he regularly worshiped from then to the time of his death. Potter Brothers began in a small way but very soon graduated to public work contacts, and David supervised the building of secondary schools at Fakenham, Wells, Aylsham, Swaffham and Burnham Market. He also built police stations in Dereham, Dersingham, Hunstanton and Downham Market, and the large George Borrow housing estate of Yaxham Road, Dereham. At one time there were over 200 employees. In the June quarter of 1939 he married Brenda Roma Saunders at Dereham, they had two daughters, Margaret and Beryl. They lived at The Beeches, next to Yaxham railway station. After a few years Brenda fell ill and on December 24th 1960 she died age 49. In 1963 he remarried to Bertha Rosalind Horne daughter of Arthur Edward Horne a builder and undertaker of Mattishall and his wife Elsie Kate Fisher, at the Methodist Church in Mattishall. David and Bertha also had two daughters, Rachel and Leah ---- David closed his business in 1979 and retired, but was well known for his hobbies, he had particular affection for wind and steam power, and turned windmills at Saham Toney and Hindolveston into homes. He also restored a mill at his former Yaxham Home. He owned several steam vehicles - and during petrol rationing at the time of the Suez crisis in 1957 he ran a fleet of them ---- On October 31st 1980 David died suddenly at his home, 25 William Cowper Close, Toftwood, Dereham.

Why Eckling Grange - A personal statement by David Potter.
WHEREAS it has been my privilege during the past five years to be closely connected with an Eventide Home and another home (Quebec Hall) for Retired people; it has been very clearly revealed by experience that it is not desirable, or practical, to cater for both the able bodied and those suffering from some disability and in need of assistance, in the same home, without considerable organization which would subject the Home to expense, which could not be borne by residents paying the normal charges.
It would appear that the only possibility of being able to accommodate those in need of nursing assistance economically would be to provide a home where sufficient residents could be taken to enable staff to be acquired to give skilled attention as and when necessary, and to make such provision for a sick ward for either sex. In this way the staff could be fully employed, and residents would not feel they were being a lot of trouble.
It is because of these reasons and for the fact that elderly residents have had to be removed from Christian fellowship at a time when they need it most, that the desire has been inspired to bring into being (D.V.) a home which will be able to cater for the convalescent and disabled until they are removed to the heavenly home. (This, of course, would not apply where a doctor ordered a removal to hospital for operation, etc.).
Eckling Grange with its six acres of tree enclosed grounds and two cottages in the grounds makes this property admirable for the creation of an elderly people's home with a difference. It is proposed to erect fifty-four Chalets in these grounds in a horse-shoe shape, connected with a covered verandah from the main building, and giving that privacy of one's own home but immediately in touch with assistance as necessary. Each Chalet will contain Bed Sitting Room, Kitchen, Bathroom and Toilet. Heating will be by electric fire and immersion heater incorporating safety control devices, and an electric bell in touch with the nurse on duty.
1963: May 25th
Major William Frederick Batt performed the Opening Ceremony
Commemorative Stone
First Staff Line Up

David Potter died in 1980 age 66

1980: Local Dereham Times
Mr David Charles Potter, formerly one of Norfolk's leading building contractors has died at his home.
200 at the Funeral of Mr. David Potter - Toftwood Gospel Hall at Dereham was full for the funeral of Mr. David Charles Potter, formerly one of Norfolk leading builder contractors. Mourners had to be turned away after more than 200 filled the hall and neighbouring schoolroom, to where the service was relayed. Cars lined the main street of Toftwood. Among those paying tribute to Mr. Potter who died at his home in William Cowper Close, Toftwood where former employees of Potter Brothers the building firm he started in 1938 and built up to employ 200 people at one time. The manager, supervisors, office staff and workmen attended the service, which was conducted by Mr. John Smith of Ely.

1980: October 31st, DAVID CHARLES POTTER, of 25, William Cooper Close, Toftwood, dearly loved husband of Bertha, loving dad of Margaret, Beryl, Rachel and Leah, with Christ which is far better (Funeral arrangements later.)

Eastern Daily Press:

Mr. David Charles. Potter, formerly one of Norfolk's leading building contractors, has died at his Dereham home. Mr. Potter, of 25, William Cowper Close, Toftwood, Dereham, came to the town as a boy and, on leaving school, was an apprentice with builders at Beetley.
He began his own business - Potter Brothers Builders - in 1938 as one of a family of nine. His first building, the Christian Brethren Gospel Hall, Shipdham Road, Toftwood, was where he regularly worshipped from then to the time of his death.
Mr. Potter also built police stations at Dereham, Dersingham, Hunstanton and Downham Market, and the large George Borrow housing estate off Yaxham Road, Dereham.
Potter Brothers began in a small way but soon graduated to public works contracts, and Mr. Potter supervised the building of secondary schools at Fakenham Wells, Aylsham, Swaffham and Burnham Market.
At one time there were 200 employees.
He pioneered Christian Eventide Homes in Dereham, purchasing Quebec Hall in a derelict state and restoring it. It now houses 20 residents and 50 more in surrounding self-catering bungalows.
Mr. Potter also bought Eckling Grange, Norwich Road, Dereham, from the late Capt. B. A. Smart and converted it to house 50 residents. A medical block was later added and 56 bungalows were built around it for residents wishing to care for themselves.
He also built the South Green Home, now known as Upton House, at Cromer.
Mr. Potter closed his business in 1979 and retired, but was well-known for his hobbies. He had a particular affection for wind and steam power, and turned windmills at Saham Toney and Hindolveston into homes. He also restored a mill at his former Yaxham home.
He owned steam vehicles -- and during petrol rationing at the time of the Suez crisis in 1957 he ran a fleet of them.
In addition to his widow, Mr. Potter leaves four daughters.

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